The United States women's national team continued its domination of the CONCACAF Women's Championship, earning a 7-0 win Wednesday over Trinidad and Tobago.
Rose Lavelle broke the game open with two first-half goals and Alex Morgan had two as well to help the Americans secure an easy win at Sahlen's Stadium in Cary, North Carolina.
After prior victories over Mexico and Panama, the United States has now won Group A and will advance to the semifinals of the World Cup qualifying tournament. After outscoring their opponents 18-0 in three games, the hosts are the clear favorite to bring home the continental championship.
Alex Morgan on Her Way Toward Becoming All-Time Great
Entering the game with 92 career international goals, Alex Morgan was already known as one of the best players in United States history. However, she has been on another level in recent months.
With two goals against Trinidad and Tobago, the forward now has 21 goals in her last 22 games.
This includes four goals in two starts this tournament as the squad inches closer to a World Cup berth.
Morgan also continues to show a wide skill set as a scorer, putting two in the back of the net in this game on tough shots from nearly impossible angles:
She would have scored more goals had she had a bit more luck before coming out at the 60-minute mark.
Morgan took eight shots in the game with only one being off target. One hit the crossbar, and the others were quality saves by Saundra Baron.
The 29-year-old is now just six goals away from 100 for her career, and based on her current form, she could get there in the next two games of this event.
Rose Lavelle Emerges as Impact Player in Deep Attack
There are no shortage of offensive options for USWNT, but Rose Lavelle is playing well enough that she should not be ignored.
The midfielder showcased her speed and footwork throughout the first half, making strong passes while keeping the ball in the attacking half of the field as much as possible.
When the team needed a play at the end of the first half, Lavelle came through with two goals, including one incredible shot from distance:
These two scores within two minutes of each other represent 40 percent of her career goals.
Even when she isn't scoring, Lavelle has stood out on a team that is loaded with proven players.
Considering she is just 23 years old, the young player could become one of the faces of the program once the older generation retires.
USWNT Learning How to Beat Defensive-Minded Opponents
Based on talent alone, there are few teams in the world that can match up with the United States. However, opponents have frustrated this team at times by parking the bus in front of the net and preventing easy looks at the goal.
Who can forget the loss to Sweden in the Olympics, which caused goalkeeper Hope Solo to call the opponent "a bunch of cowards," per Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times.
Trinidad and Tobago employed a similar strategy Wednesday, keeping all of its players behind the ball and focusing much more on defense than offense. Per the tournament's official site, the underdogs held only 25 percent possession in the match and completed 45 total passes, compared to 292 from the USA.
For the first 40 minutes, this plan worked as the Americans struggled to break through in a 1-0 match.
However, things changed when the United States started to be more aggressive with the ball, taking longer shots that eventually found the back of the net.
Lavelle started the run, but Crystal Dunn and Lindsey Horan also had impressive goals from outside the box:
This forced the defense to step up, creating more openings in front of the net.
Instead of complaining about the opposing strategy, the United States changed its thought process and found ways to score. This will be important heading into matches against more talented teams.
The United States advances to the semifinals, which means one more win will at least clinch a spot in the 2019 World Cup. The next matchup will be Sunday against the second-place team from Group B, most likely either Costa Rica or Jamaica.
This article will be updated to provide more information soon.
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